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Birthday week ended (sort of) with a Carnival at Villa Russo. This is the carnival that I’ve been working on since Christmas. Seriously. As soon as all the presents were unwrapped I began brainstorming. By the time I got back to work I had a theme. And a theme is really all I needed. I can prove that I’ve been working on this for at least a couple of months by sending you to this post, with photographic evidence of carnivalishness.

Can you guess where I’ll start with this carnival recap? No? I’m surprised. By now you should know that of course, it’s the FOOD! (warning: recently I’ve been obsessed with Instagram. So some of these photos may look awesome. Consider yourself warned.)

Like I said, I have a new instagram obsession. I could easily just post a thousand pictures of the food, but in case you’re planning on throwing a carnival of your own (I know your wheels are spinning. You want one. Go ahead. Admit it.) I’ll talk about everything we munched on.

The “main dish” was a crock-pot full of hot dogs. My lover said they were good. I don’t really know, because I was too busy loving on the sweet babies who were there. I don’t know what’s happened. Last year at John’s birthday there were no babies. At this party, there were four. Egads!

Back to talking about the food, I also served up my life source soft mall-style pretzels. You can find the recipe for them here via pinterest. When I make them just for us at home I add lots of fun flavoring (like ranch) but for the party I just plain salted them and served with a side of honey mustard. Yummers. Next to pretzels I lined up caramel apples. You can click here for the link to my caramel apples. I tell you, I will never go back to buying caramel for apples again. This stuff was delicious and oh-so-easy to do. Made the actual dipping of the apples painless. Also on our main food table I had a metal bowl full of in-shell peanuts. Lover is enjoying those leftovers. He won’t have a bowel movement for a month, but hey, why worry about consequences when the peanuts are delicious.

Now I have a quick non-party related story to tell. John broke my cake stand. *sigh* In his defense, he was trying to help me out by putting it away for me. Somehow he managed to hit it in just the right place and chipped it (a big chip) on the edge. I went into hysterics. The story is long and includes cajun food, Wal-Mart, and Garden Ridge, but the end of the story means I have two cake stands. One of them in mint condition, a match for my cake dome, and the other the reject chipped plate. I’m holding onto the reject for occasions such as this. I simply turned the chipped side to the wall, and stacked the perfect plate on top. Voila! Double-decker cupcake stand. Like a boss. And the only thing that makes it better is delicious sweet cupcakes made to look like buttery popcorn.

I wish I had a link with detailed instructions on how to recreate these beauties. As it is, I don’t. A friend of mine actually found the idea and sent it to me. I looked at several versions, and just made up my own from all the tutorials I saw. It’s not that hard really. Just make cupcakes (from a box or use a favorite recipe) frost (from a can or again use a favorite recipe) and while the frosting is still wet press on a bunch of marshmallows in a random fashion. Spray with yellow food spray. It’s that simple.

To tell you how crazy my house gets at birthday party time, know that the day of the party these were still sitting inside a cardboard box. For safekeeping. I liked to stick my nose in the box and just inhale the sweet scent. From inside a cardboard box. Oh my gosh I might be losing my mind.

The same friend who clued me in on the cupcakes found the lollipops at Walgreens. I had to order online, but I ordered enough to get free shipping. I still have about 20 left. Looks like I might be getting to know my dentist a lot better. Because I will eat them all. It’s compulsive on my part. If it’s edible, I’ll eat it.

Now the actual popcorn I can tell you about.

I totally lucked out when I walked into Wally’s Party World and found these in the “movie party” section. They were perfect. I made popcorn just minutes before the party, so it was fresh and yummy. I make all our popcorn on the stove. It’s very easy. Set a deep stock pot on high heat, add about a tablespoon of oil, drop in one kernel, and cover with the lid. Wait until the oil is hot enough to pop the kernel, then add 1/3 cup of kernels. Shake frequently over heat, and when popping slows to about three seconds between pops remove from heat. Keep the lid on until all popping stops. Spritz with butter spray and salt. Toss. Repeat. I add flavorings to ours, like ranch and cheddar. Enjoy.

And I have to give a shout-out to my mother. Who got me this one year for Christmas:

Mom you’re a rock star when it comes to knowing just what a party-girl needs. 🙂 I filled our dispenser with water, ice, lemons and limes. Thanks to another friend who showed up early to help me set up. And also brought me the citrus. You made my life so much easier. Bless you.

This post is approaching 1,000 words so I’ll get my booty movin’ right along and get down to the decor. Hours spent folding paper? Check. Photo op backdrop? Check. Big top tent? Big. Fat. Check.

This was my baby for the whole event. As easy as pie. Cheap as dirt. It dotted “i” and crossed “t” all by itself. Thanks to my lover and our very tall friend, she went up in all her grandeur with very little effort. Supplies needed:

1 dozen plastic tablecloths (the dollar tree. my rock.)

1 hula hoop

1 husband

2 friends, one of whom can actually reach the ceiling

Here’s the easy part. Attach table cloths to hula-hoop in alternating red and white. Attach hula hoop to the ceiling. We actually used thumb tacks to attach the tablecloths to the ceiling right where they met the hula hoop. Now, take the end opposite the hula hoop and stretch it out. We thumb tacked the ends to the ceiling. Step back and enjoy your new big top tent. Ooooh and aaahhh every morning until the day of the party. Impress the world.

Okay maybe not impress the world but it was perfect for our little carnival party. Once you’re done drooling over the magnificence of our big top, move on with me to our other decorations.

Paper straws make my heart happy. I bought these (along with some simple grey ones) on amazon. They serve a double purpose. Displayed in a truffle bowl like this they made an excellent contribution to the decor. Then they turned around and worked double duty as straws for our drinks. Which I guess goes without saying.

Now, on to the fun!

I am so thankful for his 27 years. And isn’t that obnoxious button just the best thing in the world? Yes. The answer to that question is yes.

Someday I’m going to come back and edit all the birthday photo op pictures to exclude duct tape. For now, I’m too lazy. So one day will become never. I’m okay with that. I just won’t think about it.

And since I’m working on making sure every post has at least one terribly awkward photo of me in it, I’ll leave you with this:

Thank you all for crashing our carnival party!